David's Farewell  23/24 November 2019

IMG 2256-800A great barn dance at the Chesterford Community Centre on the Saturday evening and a very moving Eucharist and farewell at St Mary's Saffron Walden on the Sunday morning attended by over 400 parishioners.  A few photos below sum it up. Spot David Tomlinson and family in the middle of the whole church photo. Click on photo below to enlarge. More photos below.
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A few photos from David Tomlinson's final Eucharist on Sunday morning and from the barn dance on Saturday evening.

Press Release

The bells rang, the choirs sang and the brass group played, in celebration of his ministry, as the Rev’d Canon David Tomlinson presided at his final service as rector at the Communion Service at St Mary’s on Sunday morning 24th November – and the odd tear was shed.

The choirs sang the motets Jesu, joy of man's desiring by JS Bach and Irish Blessing by Chilcott, the brass group played before and after the service and the choirs and brass group led the congregation in heartfelt singing of the hymns, Gloria and Sanctus. As a farewell tribute, the bell ringers had rung a 5,000 change Cambridge Surprise Maximus lasting 3 hours 20 minutes on Saturday 16th November.  

The service was preceded by a barn dance in Great Chesterford on the previous Saturday, to which the congregations of all the churches in the Saffron Walden and Villages Team were invited.

In his sermon (Click here to listen), based around the refrain “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again,” David said that, good triumphs in Christ’s death, opening grace to all and that in the resurrection we can share in Christ’s risen life. As the church is a focal point from everywhere in the town, so Christ is the centre of our lives and his Kingdom is coming – his followers are here now.

The children presented David with a card which they had made, which he said he will treasure.  

David is a keen cyclist, having cycled recently from Land’s End to John o’Groats and from the south to the north coast of Ireland. Making a presentation of a racing cycle after the service, together with a painting of Saffron Walden and a cheque, Denis Tindley, churchwarden, said that the large congregation of about 400 people today was testimony to the success of his 11 years as rector and an affirmation of all he had achieved. He left behind a church family enabled to use their talents and with their faith deepened. In response David thanked the team of people who had worked on the service and for all the affirmations he had received since he announced he was leaving six months ago. It was a great people and town. He would take them all with him in his heart. The congregation responded with a standing ovation.

David came to St Mary’s as Team Rector of the Saffron Walden and Villages Team Ministry, and Area Dean of Saffron Walden on 21st September 2008. Under David’s leadership St Mary’s Church has grown numerically and in faith, the musical tradition has been maintained and a significant building project has been undertaken to make the church more welcoming and accessible.

David has overseen significant developments in the Team Ministry and the Deanery, with the Team Ministry expanding to including four new parishes, and churches in the Deanery learning to collaborate more fully in God’s mission and ministry. Recently David published his first book entitled Leading a Church to Maturity in Love and is currently working on a second on the significance on Christian discipleship with a particular focus on the importance of Holy Communion. Six months ago, David’s wife, Jenny Tomlinson, became the Archdeacon of Birmingham and David will be leaving to join her in Birmingham.  David is still seeking God’s leading concerning what the next stage in his ministry will be, and sought the congregation’s prayers for God’s guidance.

Graham Cooke, lay chairman of the deanery, said at David’s last deanery service, “We express our thanks to God, who sent you to us and to you for all your dedicated concern and efforts.  David, we do thank you sincerely for all you have done for us, with us and through us.  We are sorry that you are leaving but understand that … our loss will be someone else’s gain. You go with our love, gratitude and appreciation and our earnest prayer that you may be fulfilled in your ministry in whatever the future holds for you.”

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev’d Stephen Cottrell, said, “David Tomlinson has been a wonderful servant of the Chelmsford diocese. He will be hugely missed. As Rector of the Saffron Walden team, as Area Dean, and as principle minister of the first Mission and Ministry Unit in the Diocese, David has been both a wise pastor and an adventurous pioneer. I have no doubt that God will open new doors of opportunity for David to use his considerable skills and experience in the cause of the gospel. He goes with my prayers and best wishes.”

Farewell Poem by Steve Hasler

When David and I cycled the length of the west coast of Ireland in June 2019 we passed through County Limerick.  Although we didn’t go through Limerick itself, we crossed the River Shannon by ferry much closer to the coast, being close by gave us the idea to write a limerick each day to describe some of the events of the day.  In view of this, I couldn’t resist putting together a number of verses of personal reflection of David’s time with us, many of which would be familiar to the congregation too.  The verses are loosely, in some cases, based on the form of a limerick.  Judith helped by tweaking some of the verses and we offer these verses as a farewell to David with much love. Steve Hasler

A Farewell to David

There once was a vicar from Grays
Who came here to lead prayer and praise
6 themes his priority
Passed by majority
So the DCC minute says.
When told his wife’s also ordained
We all very quickly exclaimed
Do we have two for one?
Oh, it could be so much fun
When who wears the trousers is named!
The first thing that David did mention:
Our youth work needs some attention
We found Andy Finn
And then Matt, what a win!
And both added a brand new dimension.
Four cent’ries since King James was penned
We read from beginning to end
In a biblical marathon
Young and old read a portion
And finished it in a weekend.
Now curates, we’ve had quite a few
David’s mainly feminine crew
Comprised Paula and Anne,
Tim and Lydia began
Then Rachel and John joined in too.
Then in the spring of 2012
Our old DCC we did shelve
A new pastoral scheme
Formed a ministry team
Of churches which now number twelve.
Family service attendance was low
So David with focus did go
And improved it immensely
So that now we have plenty
Of parents with children in tow.
We need a new servery and loo
Said David and some agreed too
But what of the noise as we…..flush
That we most surely should hush
Said others, or the plans won’t go through.
So a large consultation we had
With sound-proofing the walls would be clad
We drew up some plans
And all became fans
But money we’d need quite a tad.
Let’s ride LEJOG, that’s lots of miles
A blog will raise funds and some smiles
They’ve gone mad in the head
The congregation said
Yet we did it and raised piles and piles.
David, you’ve focused our vision
Led worship, prayer, study and mission
You have taught us so much
About faith, love and such
Not forgetting the Prodigal Son.
So we’ll try not to be glum
As you head off to Brum
Knowing that your new role
Is in God’s control
And we’ll pray for whatever may come.